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Mozart Requiem in Elgar Concert Hall

Mozart Requiem : Mendelssohn Psalm 42

Saturday, March 29, 2014.
Norman Stinchcombe reviews Birmingham Choral Union at Elgar Concert Hall

Is it the pathos of being Mozart’s last work, still uncompleted as he lay on his deathbed, which ensures the enduring popularity of his Requiem? It contributes, but it’s the music’s combination of dramatic passion and delicate beauty which, despite the sometimes ham-fisted efforts of his pupil Süssmayr’s completion, never fails to touch us.
The Birmingham Choral Union attacked the Dies Irae with vehemence, expanded their sound grandly for Rex tremendae majestatis and honed it down for the plaintive appeal of Voca me. The opening fast passage of the Confutatis caught them a little flat-footed but they soon recovered. They are occasionally hard-pressed at the extremes – not enough basses, and sopranos strained above the stave – but overall this was a sterling performance. They were well supported by the BCU Orchestra (a fine solo by the trombone) conducted by Colin Baines with organ accompaniment by Darren Hogg.
Ellie Edmonds (mezzo-soprano) projected the text with vitality and conviction. Matthew Durkan seems to have a good baritone but lacks the required bass extension to give Tuba Mirum the necessary weight and authority. Stephen Mills’ light tenor was pleasant and used skillfully. Jaclyn Lewis (soprano) looked ill at ease and was fluttery on top, as she was in her solo contribution to Mendelssohn’s setting of Psalm 42, a large scale work in seven sections. The choir excelled in this rarely-heard piece which moves from the hushed music of religious doubt to a resounding renewal of faith – their final jubilant Ewigkeit! (Everlasting!) ringing out convincingly.
Birmingham Post, 1 April 2014.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.birminghamchoralunion.org.uk/review-mozart-requiem-march-2014/